A recent episode of South Park has angered a gay rights group for using the word ‘fag’.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said that although South Park was apparently trying to “delegitmise” the word, its use might not be understood by all viewers.

In the episode, the boys begin calling riders of Harley Davidson motorbikes ‘fags’ because they are “annoying and inconsiderate”. At first, local gay people are angry but then join the rebranding effort after concluding that the word will never go away because “it’s simply too much fun to say”.

However, GLAAD did not appreciate the joke, saying that use of the word would have consequences for people who were victims of anti-gay bullying.

The complaint read: “Although this seems to represent a well-intentioned effort by the creators of South Park to delegitimise a vulgar anti-gay slur, the fact is that the word is and remains a hateful slur that is often part of the harassment, bullying and violence that gay people, and gay youth in particular, experience on a daily basis in this country.

“It is an epithet that has real consequences for real people’s lives. Just this year, an 11-year-old Massachusetts student named Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, unable to endure the unrelenting anti-gay bullying and name-calling he experienced at school, committed suicide.”

The complaint continued: “The creators of South Park are right on one important point: more and more people are using the F-word as an all-purpose insult.

“However, it is irresponsible and wrong to suggest that it is a benign insult or that promoting its use has no consequences for those who are the targets of anti-gay bullying and violence.

“This is a slur whose meaning remains rooted in homophobia. And while many South Park viewers will understand the sophisticated satire and critique in last night’s episode, others won’t – and if even a small number of those take from this a message that using the ‘F-word’ is OK, it worsens the hostile climate that many in our community continue to face.”

Comedy Central, which shows South Park, has not commented.